Getting Dialogic Part 1

Alcibiades barges into Agathon’s party in Plato’s Symposium

We’ll spend the first weeks of class examining Socratic irony, Platonism, and the relationship of both these topics to effective rhetorical communication. Your first major assignment has 2 parts.

Part 1

First, you will compose and perform a 7- to 8-minute speech in which you construct and develop a definition of a topic chosen by the class. Beginning September 13, we’ll hold a symposium where you will stand up and give your speech about this specific topic, just like the guests in Plato’s Symposium tell stories and give their individual definitions of Love. Indeed, as a class we may choose to focus on Love, or on some other abstract concept such as Justice, Beauty, Intelligence, Truth, Fear … But remember that, according to Plato’s Theory of Forms, everything in reality has a pure Form from which it emanates. That means we could just as easily choose to devote our symposium to Tigers or Oranges as we could devote it to Love or Truth.

Organization Guidelines

To structure your speech, keep in mind the tips provided in your WOVENText, chapters 21-23. [You might also listen to NPR’s selection of This I Believe essays, which are often devoted to defining and exploring single themes.]

Your speech should include

  • An introduction in which you establish your topic via an opening statement that is engaging and inviting. Even if you decide to structure this speech more like a story or parable (like Aristophanes) more than a formal argument (like Pausanias), you should still find a way to include a thesis statement that summarizes your definition of your Form, or that in some other way helps your listeners identify your main conclusions about your topic.
  • A supporting anecdote (or several) that helps to  illustrate or otherwise lend support to your main ideas about your topic. Aristophanes relates a fable; Alcibiades tells a personal story; Eryximachus constructs an extended metaphor about medicine as a harmonizing force; Phaedrus relies on multiple examples of ennobled lovers. What kind of specific support will you use to develop your argument?
  • A visual aid or prop that also helps to illustrate or otherwise lend support to your main ideas about your topic. You may pass around a handout. You may also use the board or display something on the projector screen (a prezi, for example). You should refer to your visual aid in your speech; it’s not just for decoration.
  • A conclusion in which you encourage your listeners to remember your argument(s). Avoid simply restating your thesis.
Compose a Works Cited page for any and all outside sources you consult in writing this speech. Outside sources are not required for this assignment, but many of you may choose to quote other voices in your speech. Should you do so, you must provide citations for your materials. In addition, if you use any images on handouts or slides, you must provide citations for these as well. Consult the WOVENText, chapter 42d for instructions on how to write citations using MLA style.

Guidelines for Presenting

  • Consider your audience. Think about they would like or expect to see in a presentation. Remember presenters that you have seen and liked; can you imitate some of their techniques?
  • Do not read your talk. Ultimately you will submit a written version of your speech, but when it comes time to present, do not just get up and read your paper. You can use notecards, but ideally you want to practice enough that you can look up often, making eye contact with everyone in the audience.
  • Repeat keywords and phrases. Oral arguments benefit from repetition. Help your audience remember your major points by returning to them consistently.
  • Look presentable and speak with confidence. Dress nicely the day you present. Speak up and try to limit awkward speech tags such as “um.” If there’s a podium, don’t hide behind it; you can move around a bit and gesture for emphasis. Most importantly, be enthusiastic about your topic. If you sound bored, your audience will be bored too. 
  • Practice your talk, out loud, a few times before you present. Be particularly mindful of the time constraints. You do not want to run significantly over or under 7-8 minutes.

Due Dates for Part 1

3 copies of a draft are due in class on 9/10 for a peer review workshop. In addition, email a copy to your instructor.

Speeches will be delivered in class on 9/12, 9/17 & 9/19. Also submit a copy of your speech, along with a Works Cited page, to T-square on 9/19  by 11:59 PM.  Double-space this document, use 1 inch margins and 12 pt. font.

Rubric (150)

Insubstantial (D/F) Competent (C) Mature (B) Exemplary (A)
Rhetorical Awareness Considers audience, message and medium(75 points) Argument unclear and/or elements of the rhetorical situation neglected; content undeveloped and unmemorable, with no specific support Elements of the rhetorical situation examined, but content not fully coherent or fully developed; vague support Elements of the rhetorical situation examined with confidence; content relies on specific but clichéd support Elements of the rhetorical situation examined with confidence and sophistication; content creative and compelling, with plenty of relevant, engaging and specific support
Design for Medium Adds features to enhance audience involvement(25 points) Multimodal components missing, illegible or inappropriate Some multimodal components included, but awkwardly or weakly integrated Multimodal components included and synthesized appropriately Multimodal components provoke distinct visual, auditory and/or emotional appeals and are integrated smoothly
OrganizationThoughtful structure gives argument momentum(25 points) Structure illogical and lacking cohesion with missing transitions; content impossible to follow Structure somewhat clear with inconsistent transitions Structure clear but predictable, utilitarian; content coherent but somewhat monotonous Structure clear but complex; ideas organized to achieve maximum coherence and momentum; content organized creatively and unexpectedly
Conventions Adheres to grammar and usage standards(25 points) Content distorted by inaudible, inappropriate or excessively unpolished speech Content occasionally interrupted by unpolished speech Content clarified by good grammar and language throughout; delivery polished, steadily paced Content enhanced by sophisticated use of rhetorical devices, with zero sentence-level issues; delivery impressively polished, dynamically paced



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